We had the pleasure of meeting a local named Vishal on the streets, and he turned out to be incredibly helpful. He offered to show us around the city the next day in exchange for a donation, which we thought was a really cool gesture on his part. As time went on, we realized how grateful we were to have him by our side. Without his guidance, it would have been challenging to navigate through the overwhelming amount of information and truly absorb everything around us. Varanasi is a city deeply rooted in history and spirituality. To truly grasp the essence of the city and its people, and to appreciate it amidst the chaos, having a local who was born and raised there to provide insights and information was very important. Exploring the city with Vishal made us feel much more comfortable and secure. Speaking of safety, Varanasi is generally safe. While you may encounter people offering you various things persistently, it can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, but neither of us ever felt unsafe. The prolonged staring can be a bit disconcerting at first, as someone may look at you without blinking for minutes or until you leave the area. It can be intimidating. Children might approach you and ask to take pictures, but it’s just part of the culture. Don’t be afraid though. It’s also worth noting that you may look different from most visitors since Varanasi, due to its holiness, attracts many Indians from all over the country. Many tourists from different countries never make it to Varanasi, so it’s a unique experience.
Continuing our journey through the bustling and narrow alleys of Varanasi, it felt as though we had stepped back in time to the 1800s. The streets were teeming with animals, and the locals adorned themselves in vibrant colors. It was an incredibly exotic and dream-like setting, truly a paradise for any photographer. Every corner we turned held a surprise, making it the perfect destination for adventurous explorers. We thoroughly enjoyed engaging with people, striking up conversations, and extending a friendly handshake. After establishing a connection, I would politely ask for permission to take their picture. Fortunately, most of them graciously agreed, allowing me to capture a one of a kind moment in our travels we will never forget. In return, I offered any assistance I could, as many of the locals are living in poverty, and any form of help is greatly appreciated. We kept walking towards the Ganga river, where we saw people bathing in the water. Some of them even drink the water straight from the river.
Afterward, we ventured to one of the renowned ghats in Varanasi. These ghats are temples located along the riverbank, where cremations take place with bodies wrapped in golden fabric. It is a belief held by Hindus that the souls of the departed find salvation when their ashes are scattered in the holy river. Friends and family watching the ceremony are not allowed to cry, instead they are happy their loved ones found salvation Some of these ghats have stood for thousands of years, lending an air of profound significance to the experience. It can be quite overwhelming to navigate these rituals independently, so having a knowledgeable tour guide is highly recommended throughout Varanasi. Along our journey, we also had the opportunity to explore some fascinating spots, including the Kamasutra temple. The temple’s exterior boasts intricately carved wooden columns adorned with depictions of various Kamasutra positions. It was an incredibly unique and visually captivating sight, definitely a must-visit for anyone in Varanasi.